How to Choose the Right Pharmacist Tech College Near Troy Alabama
Now that you have decided to attain your pharmacy tech certificate or degree near TroyAL, you might be pondering just how to select the ideal college to receive your education and training. Of course the first step is to locate schools that offer the diploma or degree that you would like to earn. A number of future students begin by searching for schools that are within driving distance of their residence, and then comparing the tuitions. While tuition and location are important factors when choosing a college, they are not the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be evaluated also. And if you are interested in studying in your home by means of your computer rather than in a classroom, then finding an accredited online program will also be part of your vetting process. We will go over these qualifiers and some others that you will want to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's discuss what a pharmacy technician does, the degree and certification options available, and the advantages of online courses.
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The Role of a Pharmacy Tech
Pharmacy techs have many job functions, but their main duty is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must perform under the management of a licensed Troy AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service abilities because they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms in order that they can help customers with understanding instructions for their medications in addition to other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no circumstance should they ever offer medical advice concerning prescriptions or anything else. Any such questions should be addressed by the pharmacist. A few of the common daily functions a pharmacy technician may carry out are:
- Welcome and help customers with medications and other questions
- Dispense prescription medications under pharmacist direction
- Input customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their prescriptions are prepared for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and monitor and control inventory
Due to the nature of their job, pharmacy technicians will spend most of their working day on their feet. And working weekends and evenings is also very common, especially for newer techs with lower seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes being required to work after hours is an extremely fulfilling career assisting customers with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Technician Degree Programs
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy technician program are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are basically 2 alternatives to becoming a tech whether you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to attain a certificate or a diploma, which normally can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs present an introduction to the various facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and usually include classroom and lab training. Many programs also include an internship at an accepted Troy AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which generally involves about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does offer a more expansive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education in the future. Each program should furnish the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacist Tech Certifications Available
It is not required to earn certification in every state, but numerous graduates of pharmacy tech programs opt to become certified in order to be more competitive in the job market. Also, many Troy AL pharmacies will only employ a technician that has earned certification. There are 2 organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requires that the candidate be 18 years or older, be a high school graduate, has finished a training program, and has one or more years of work experience. The PTCB just requires that the applicant has a high school diploma and passes their exam. Recertification is called for every 2 years by both programs, which may be satisfied by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Programs Online
Prior to selecting a pharmacist tech online school, it's necessary to understand that the majority of schools do require that a substantial part of the training be completed in a clinical setting. This is usually satisfied in an area Troy pharmacy or health center through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the benefit of working under an experienced pharmacy tech so as to get some real world experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training may be taken over the internet in your Troy AL home or via any available computer. This option is more convenient for many students, especially for those who keep working while attaining their certificate or degree. And online colleges are sometimes less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and costs for driving and course materials may be reduced significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is offered. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is essential for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So confirm that each online college you are considering is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to study with a less formal type of education, then online instruction might be the best option for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacist Tech Courses
Once you have decided whether you want to obtain a certificate or degree, and if you prefer to enroll in an online college or attend classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school alternatives. There are many pharmacy tech colleges to select from in the Troy AL area and throughout the Country, so you must develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast community colleges and technical schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will most likely initially look for schools that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Troy home. If you are able to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be important. But there are many other variables that you should take into consideration so that you may effectively compare colleges. The questions below will assist you to gather that information and help you to make your final decision.
Is the Pharmacy Tech College Accredited? The majority of pharmacist technician programs and vocational schools have acquired a national or regional accreditation. Among the most respected accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and certified to offer a comprehensive quality education. Online programs may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with online or distance learning. Don't forget to verify that the degree or certificate program in addition to the school you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting organization. Besides helping ensure that you get a quality education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, certification may mandate that the training program is accredited. And a number of Troy AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the School Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in every state, but numerous pharmacies desire that the techs they employ be certified. The pharmacist tech college needs to ready its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of work experience. This qualification may be satisfied by entering a school sponsored internship program.
Does the College Offer Internship Programs? As we previously discussed, the NHA requires one year of professional experience for certification, which may be satisfied by means of an internship program. Perhaps the best way to get practical clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy tech certificate or degree programs also require practical training prior to graduation and an internship is a great way to satisfy the requirement. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with Troy Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the College Offer Job Placement Assistance? Getting that first position in Troy AL after graduation, particularly with no experience, can be a daunting endeavor without any support. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indication that the school has a good reputation within the field creating appeal for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a sizable network of pharmacy relationships where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the college they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Troy AL home. Those who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy technician program also.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the pharmacy tech college you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Troy AL area, make sure that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Troy Pharmacy Technician Program
Finding the best pharmacist tech training is an important first step to beginning your career in a fulfilling profession where helping people with their wellness is your mission. Traditionally, many pharmacy technicians were trained "on the job". These days, the majority of pharmacies can no longer afford to do this and place a higher importance on hiring formally trained technicians. Training is furnished by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. Many pharmacist tech programs incorporate both classroom and laboratory work. As we have covered in this article, it's essential to enroll in a program that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This applies both for classes online and for those attended on campus. If you make use of our additional suggestions you will be able to compare colleges so that you are certain to make the right selection. With the proper training and commitment you can accomplish your goal to become a pharmacy technician in Troy Alabama.